CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It's one of the most exciting drills of the spring: live batting practice. Why? Well it's the only time all season you can see Chase Utley hit off of Roy Halladay or Ryan Howard take swings against Cole Hamels.
In the grand scheme of things, live BP isn't a huge deal -- but it is a good way for hitters to prepare. On Thursday, Phillies hitters will go against their pitching teammates for the first time. Much of the focus during the spring is on the pitchers, mainly because this time is more important for them. But the hitters need practice, too.
"The speed of the ball, you're not used to it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's coming out of a hand and you're outdoors. In the wintertime, sometimes you get a guy inside or a machine. It's completely different. A pitcher is usually throwing better and he'll be mixing in curveballs and change-ups and stuff."
Pitching coach Rich Dubee said the first group to face Halladay will include Utley, Raul Ibanez and Domonic Brown. But the groups of pitchers will rotate from field to field, so the hitters will have the chance to see various arm slots and styles. Each pitcher will not throw more than 40 pitches.
Generally, the first live BP is for tracking only, i.e. the hitters will not swing. But Dubee said that isn't the case.
"No, they'll swing," Dubee said. "It's available to swing if they want."
"They're tracking," Manuel interjected, laughing.
Lidge will throw on side
While the majority of the Phillies pitching staff will throw to hitters on Thursday, closer Brad Lidge will throw off the side in his second bullpen session of the spring.
Lidge continues to do agility drills, separated from the rest of the packs. He has still yet to participate in pitchers' fielding practice and won't do so until the athletic trainers give the green light.
As to how many more side sessions Lidge will need before he faces live batters, Dubee was noncommittal.
"We'll see," Dubee said.
Jamie Moyer participated in PFP for the first time on Wednesday. At this point, he is effectively caught up to the rest of the pitchers in camp.
"Moyer can't sit still," Manuel deadpanned.
Quote of the day
Manuel was asked if he has decided how much he'll play his regulars during the team's first exhibition game against Florida State a week from Wednesday. He laughed.
"We're going for the jugular, man," Manuel said.